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Fall Lawn Care

Fall Lawn Care

Autumn means football games, visits to the local pumpkin patch and pending holidays. It also means it’s time to get your yard ready for winter. The right preparation now will save you time and energy when spring rolls around, and will keep you and your family safe in the yard year-round. Make sure you get the most out of your yard next year by following our checklist of fall cleanup musts.

1. Clean out debris.

Fallen leaves and weeds are the perfect place for pests to settle in for the winter. Clear out flower beds to keep the critters at bay. Pay special attention to rose beds, as their foliage can foster disease over the winter.

2. Till the vegetable garden.

After the final harvest, pull out old vegetable plants, remove debris, and completely till the whole plot. If you compost, now is the time to add a layer of compost to help nurture your soil for planting next spring.

3. Trim rogue branches.

Trim up any large or out-of-place tree branches that may cause trouble during the winter. You don’t want any branches breaking and falling during the winter months to come.

4. Clean out the gutters.

Not all fall cleanup is in the yard. This is the perfect time to clear leaves and other debris from gutters. Check for proper drainage, clear out any blockages with a small garden trowel, and rinse with a hose.

5. Dry everything out.

Drain all water from hoses, fountains, and drip irrigation systems, and store them in a dry place. Water left standing over the winter may damage your equipment.

6. Aerate.

Break up soil to keep water from pooling and guarantee that nutrients will reach the roots over the winter. A garden fork will do the job for small yards, but larger yards require a walk-behind aerator.

7. Feed the lawn.

Send your yard into winter with the nutrients it needs to survive the long, cold sleep. Add a fall lawn fertilizer with high phosphorous content to encourage root growth and enjoy a lush, green lawn come spring.

8. Rake and mulch.

Don’t let fallen leaves get the best of you; if left unattended they can suffocate the grass. Rake them up, shred them, and use them as mulch for young trees, shrubs, and flower beds. 

9. Prune trees and shrubs.

Trim any dead branches and cut back overgrown trees and bushes. If you have blooming perennials like clematis or roses, now is the time to prune them and train the branches.

10. Give it one last mow.

Set your mower to a low setting and give the lawn a close buzz before winter sets in. This helps the soil dry out more quickly in the spring, which leads to a lusher lawn.

11. Divide and cut back perennials.

If your perennials really took off this year, go ahead and spread the love. Divide plants and add them to other beds where they will also do well. This saves money and time in the spring. Fall-blooming perennials like chrysanthemums shouldn’t be divided now — wait and divide them in the spring.

12. Protect cold-sensitive plants.

Keep sensitive perennials, shrubs, and roses in top shape through the cold days of winter. Add mulch to the base and wrap plants in cloth barriers to prevent damage from freezing. Depending on the hardiness of the plant and your climate, you can use a single sheet or blanket or wrap them in a combination of cloth and plastic.

13. Plant bulbs, shrubs, and fall annuals.

Some plants do best when planted in the fall. If you want to add new shrubs or spring bulbs like hyacinth, now is the time to get them in the ground. Fall annuals like pansies are also a great addition to keep some color in your yard as other plants go to sleep.

14. Protect the deck.

Prevent the growth of mold and mildew by giving the deck a good power wash. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can rent one from a garden store. Once the deck is clean and dry, add a weatherproofing stain to protect the wood from moisture damage over the winter.

15. Clean tools and store them.

Don’t throw your gardening tools in the shed and forget about them until spring. Take time to give them a good cleaning and add a light coat of oil to prevent rust during the cold season.

If you follow this checklist you’re bound to have a wonderfully winterized yard that will be ready to wow you with lush, green bounty once the warm weather returns.

If you’d prefer to leave the fall clean up to the professionals, call First Response Lawn Care at 214-701-7622. We can tackle all of these lawn chores for you!

Fall Fertilizing

Fall Fertilizing

Autumn is the right time of year to nourish your yard!

Fall is here and it’s time to fertilize. Why now? Taking the time to fertilize in the fall will strengthen your plants’ and lawn’s roots, giving them a strong base on which to thrive next spring.

The first thing to understand about fertilizer is the formula, which is represented by three numbers, such as the common 5-10-5. The first number represents nitrogen, which promotes lawn blade and foliage growth; the second number stands for phosphorus, which helps root growth; and the third for potassium, which promotes cell function and absorption of trace elements. But what do you fertilize? When? And with what? Let’s start with your lawn.

During fall, September is the best time to fertilize your lawn. Grass is recovering from a long hot summer and may be coming out of a drought-induced dormancy, so you’ll want to give your lawn a shot of nitrogen to push blade growth. A fertilizer with a formula of 20-8-8 will get it growing again. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application. Some people treat weeds and insects at this time, but I think that unless there are signs of trouble or a history of problems, don’t apply anything but fertilizer. While this fall lawn fertilizer dose is important, an application at the end of October or early November is essential. At that time, apply a fertilizer with a formula of 13-25-12. The push of phosphorus will stimulate root growth through November and even into early December. By helping roots grow before winter sets in, you are insuring that the lawn will green-up quicker in the spring and become more resistant to disease and draught.

With the lawn taken care of, it’s time to consider plants. By now, perennials are starting to fade but they will benefit from 0-20-0 super phosphate fertilizer scattered around the plants at recommended doses and lightly cultivated into the soil. Next spring you’ll have stronger plants with more flowers.

Fall is also a great time to fertilize shrubs and trees. Sll trees and shrubs benefit from fertilizer, because most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. In addition, every fall we rake leaves off these beds, depriving plants of the nutrients that decomposing leaves would traditionally release. To compensate, I recommend applying one to three pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of bed and cultivating lightly. (To figure out the exact amount of fertilizer you’ll need, calculate the square footage of your beds and consult with your local garden center.) Fertilizing trees in late September and early October promotes root growth. These nutrients will still be in the soil come spring when plants start to grow. If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of super phosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the super hosphate in the world won’t make it flower.

Fall is also the time to plant bulbs. Use super phosphate to promote root growth, insuring strong flowering in the spring. Some people recommend using bone meal when planting bulbs but beware, this attracts rodents who eat both the bone meal and the bulbs.

As you can tell, the basic goal of fall fertilizing is to promote root growth. When you have strong roots, you have healthy plants with numerous flowers. So push those roots!

If all of this sounds complicated and you’d rather leave it to the professionals, call First Response Lawn Care at (214) 701-7622

We offer a 7 step program to feed and control your lawn weeds.

Fall Is Best Time To Install Your Sprinkler System

Fall Is Best Time To Install Your Sprinkler System

A sprinkler system ensures your lawn has the hydration it needs to maintain optimum health and look its very best. If you’re in the market for a sprinkler system, now is the perfect time of year. 

With summer coming to an end in 11 days, First Response Lawn Care advises that now is the best time for sprinkler system installation. Keep reading if you’d like to learn why autumn is such a great time to set up a system that keeps your grass green and nourished:

3 Reasons Autumn Is The Best Time For Sprinkler Installation

Moderate Temperatures 

North Texas summers can be uncomfortably hot, and the winters can be downright frigid. The temperatures in autumn are relatively moderate, and this makes it a lot more comfortable to be outdoors for long stretches.  

Little Precipitation

Precipitation slows sprinkler installation and there is little or no precipitation in fall.  Digging is necessary to put the sprinkler system in place, and if it’s raining, the weather will actively delay installation. Spring and summer often bring rain, and winters may bring some precipitation. Setting up your sprinkler in the fall allows us to get the job done without being hindered by uncooperative weather. 

Faster Service & Better Deals

Autumn is a quieter time of year for most sprinkler installation companies, and this means you’re likely to benefit from faster installation and possibly cost-saving deals. 

Choose First Response Lawn Care for all your irrigation and sprinkler system needs in Rockwall, Texas and the surrounding areas. Call (214) 701-7622 to speak with a representative today! 

Prepare Your Lawn For Fall

Prepare Your Lawn For Fall

The last day of summer is September 23, 2019. 

After the hot Texas summers, the cool brisk weather is more than welcome as fall approaches later this month. Now is the transitional period to take care of your lawn in preparation for fall. There are a few things to do to make sure that you and your lawn are ready for cooler temperatures. 

Here are a few tips to help you prepare your lawn for a seasonal transition in northeast Texas.

1. Continue To Mow

Regardless of the season, a rule of thumb when it comes to mowing is to never cut more than one-third of the height. Cutting your lawn too short can make it susceptible to diseases. Continue mowing even after summer to keep the lawn healthy. When the majority of the growth has stopped you won’t have to mow as often as you would in the summer months.

2. Fertilize

Mulch the grass as you mow the lawn. The grass clippings act as an organic fertilizer by applying the required nutrients to your grass while they decompose. In the fall, fertilizing your lawn will help protect it and keep it healthy when the cool weather rolls in. Before fertilizing your grass on your own, make sure you know what type of grass you have in order to choose the correct fertilizer. This should be a granulated fertilizer that is applied to the lawn using a manual spreader. First Response Lawn Care has an excellent 7-step program. All fertilizer and herbicides are commercial grade. We are licensed with the Texas Department of Agriculture Lic #450863. Our fertilizing program uses a 7 step program to ensure your yard is healthy and the best in the neighborhood.

3. Discard Weeds

Weeds are a constant problem and hassle to keep them away from your garden and lawn. Fall is one of the best times to treat for weeds allowing you enough time to completely discard of all the weeds before growth begins in the spring. When pulling weeds, it is important to grab the root in its entirety. Snipping the roots at ground level won’t remove it and it will be able to grow back. Our weed control program alleviates the problem of pulling weeds alltogether.

4. Aerate

During the summertime, it’s safe to say that your lawn gets a lot of traffic. With heavy traffic comes compact. When the soil is compacted, it can’t retrieve the vital nutrients needed to sustain healthy grass. Aerating your lawn breaks up the soil and allows it to “breathe.” First Response Lawn Care provides aeration services to Rockwall, Texas, Royse City, Caddo Mills, Fate, and surrounding communities. The results are a healthier and stronger turf and root zone that are able to better withstand turf related diseases, pests, and weeds. 

Fall lawn care may not seem like it’s that important, but in order to maintain a lush lawn in northeast Texas, it’s crucial to practice proper lawn care maintenance year round.

Need help with preparing your lawn for Fall? Whether it is mowing, fertilizer and weed control, aeration of any other lawn maintenance, contact First Response Lawn Care today at 214-701-7622. We can help!

Mud Daubers Are Okay

Mud Daubers Are Okay

Are you seeing a lot of mud daubers (wasps) buzzing around your house this summer? With that comes a bunch of little mud homes they’ve built in brick grout, under eaves, etc. And usually it means you have an abundance of spider webs closeby. These insects do not generally sting people and are more of an annoyance than a risk, but read on beccause they do have some signfiicant benefits.

Mud daubers are solitary insects, meaning each nest only has one wasp that is responsible for all the necessary tasks.  The nests are constructed from mud by a single mated female and they can vary in shape, from pipe-shaped to globular.  These nests can be found in any protected such as area under eaves, in garages, and the like.

Mud dauber is a common name given to a number of wasps that build their nest from mud. Also called “dirt dauber,” “dirt dobber” or “mud wasp”.

What’s inside those mud dauber nests anyway?

Good question. The nest of the black and yellow mud dauber is a simple, one-cell, urn-shaped nest that is attached to crevices, cracks and corners. Each nest contains one egg. Usually several nests are clumped together and covered in mud.

How can you tell a mud dauber from another wasp?

Adult mud daubers are three-quarters of an inch to 1 inch in length and, depending on the species, vary in color from dull black to black with bright yellow markings to iridescent blue black. The feature that best identifies the mud dauber is its long, narrow waist — the section between the thorax and abdomen.

What do mud daubers eat?

Mud daubers are solitary insects and like most wasps, they are predators. They sting their prey with paralyzing venom. The venom does not kill, but paralyzes and preserves the prey so it can be transported and stored in the nest cell as food for the larva. Although the black widow spider is the preferred food, the mud dauber also will dine on flies, crickets and leaf hoppers, with some flower nectar and pollen for dessert.

Two species generally found in Texas are the black and yellow mud dauber and the metallic blue mud dauber. Both are predators, but each function in different ways. These two species may occupy the same sites year after year, creating a large number of nests. These nests can last many years in a protected area and are often used as nest areas by other kinds of wasps and bees, and sometimes other types of insects.

The black and yellow mud dauber will prey on small, colorful spiders, like the crab spider, orb weavers and some jumping spiders. These are usually found around vegetation. The black and yellow mud daubers build simple, one-cell, urn-shaped nest of mud, attaching it to crevices, cracks, and corners of buildings. The nest is composed of a series of cylindrical cells that are plastered over to form a smooth nest almost the size of a lemon. Each cell will contain only one egg.

The metallic-blue mud dauber is one lazy wasp. Instead of building their own nest, they use abandoned nest of other species, usually old nests of the black and yellow mud dauber. They carry water to the abandoned nest and recondition it for their own purposes. The blue mud dauber is the main predator of the black widow spider. They prefer the immature black widow spiders found in dry areas around outbuildings, rocky areas and stone piles.

Why are mud daubers beneficial to my yard?

Mud daubers are considered extremely beneficial insects. They keep the spider population in check. Mud daubers are wasps and even though they can sting, they don’t generally sting people. Most wasp stings happen when people get too close to the nests of the more aggressive social wasps, like the hornet or yellow jacket. The solitary mud dauber does not defend its nest as aggressively as the social wasps and is very unlikely to sting even when provoked. However, you might get stung if you attempt to handle them.

If you just don’t give a hoot about the benefit of the mud dauber and want to get rid of the nests, call First Response Lawn Care at 214-701-7622. We offer a pest control program that will rid your yard of insects. We are licensed with the Texas Department of Agriculture License #450863. We can help!